Tuesday, November 19, 2019

...The Way I Like My Coffee

I don't know whoever started the saying about liking their men the way they like their coffee, but I get it. I like my coffee the way I like my life: dark roast, light roast, and all the toasty roasts in between. It's been more dark than light lately, but that's all right.

Not using sugar or flavored creamer in my coffee was only possible because of a particular coffee brand. For the past couple of years, I have so wanted to learn to enjoy plain black coffee. Black coffee (instead of the sugary, heavily-creamed stuff) has a lot of potential benefits:
I won't get into all the other debatable claims about weight loss, cancer-curbing, memory-boosting, artery-cleansing, etc. Some of those claims have studies behind them and some are potentially true for some or most people.

As I said, I've had to learn to drink black coffee. A lot of people have the opinions I used to: coffee is not made to drink black, it's too harsh-tasting and... just blecch! What I know now is that it's all about roast, grind, and brewing method. I started drinking Luzianne brand black because it's mellower-tasting the darks roasts I always liked. Now I have discovered 2 other brands:


First one I tried
Number 2






I got the Caribou from Hy-vee for just over 5 bucks for the 12-oz bag. The taste is mild enough to drink black, but I wasn't impressed by the bland flavor. It will do for when I run out of my other coffees.

It is lighter than my Luzianne and Cafe du Monde dark roasts.

Caribou
I heightened the contrast so you can tell it's not
much lighter than the Cafe du Monde or Luzianne dark roasts


The Kicking Horse brand is from Amazon and was 10 bucks for the 10-oz bag. Crazy. I really wanted to kick my own horse for splurging on this one. Except... It's kind of yummy. It's not dollar-per-ounce-yummy but it's nice. The one negative about this one (other than that price) is that I like it better with at least a drop or two of creamer. Minus creamer, it's got a very slightly and pleasantly woody taste; with a touch of creamer, it gets all smoky and toasty-tasting. Yeah, so, nto helping me in the calorie department.

Kicking Horse
is very finely ground too

When it's time to get more coffee, I think I am going to try one that is light roast but has a touch of chocolate. I think I can do anything as long as chocolate is involved.

Overall, if my opinion matters, I would recommend the Kicking Horse Hola (for those who can afford it). The Caribou is a Nope for me because Luzianne is just as good black and is a better coffee all around.

That's my coffee post for now. I will update when I've had the chance to try more flavors/brands.

Peace
--Free












*I do NOT get paid as an affiliate for any of the links in this post

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

** MINI REVIEW** Swanson Ultra Magnesium Oil from Zechstein Sea


This is not the first or even second brand of magnesium oil I have used. I actually use magnesium oil almost every day and night. During the day, it helps calm me when I get really jumpy anxiety. At night I use it to help me rest better. I actually spray it on my underarms at night because it makes a good natural deodorant. Some people use it for relieving sore muscle pain.


Just under $9 for 8 ounces

The only ingredients on the label "magnesium chloride brine from the Ancient Zechstein Seabed in the Netherlands".

The first brands I used were good and the only problem I had with one of them was the salty residue that left my skin looking way ashy. This one doesn't have that effect, nor does it burn as much. This one does, however, make my skin itch if I don't moisturize after applying it. That's a strange thing since Swanson claims the oil "nourishes and moisturizes" the skin...

While I like my other brands, I think that I will stick with this one for the long haul. It's cheaper than the other 2 I tried and it actually works more effectively to help me rest. I might try one of the magnesium lotions but I have noticed that they tend to be pricier than the oils. What's up with that? Maybe I will just add the magnesium to some lotion of my own?

Anyway, I wanted to post this for anyone who might not already have heard about magnesium oil in general. I have a neighbor who takes magnesium in tablet form. I have not read up on that, but it's another rabbit hole for you all to go down.

I will end with a fun fact: Magnesium chloride is also used as a road de-icer. Who knew?

Peace
--Free


This is a 2-song kind of day




Wednesday, November 06, 2019

**Griot** Bone and Mud

I recently went through a painful life situation. Some people disappointed me with their behavior and morals. Other people disappointed me with their apathy. So I spent a few days lying around in the dark, crying and asking God all kinds of questions that I probably don't really want answers for. Then I remembered a time several years ago when I was in the same kind of situation and feeling the same feelings. My mother was there for me then and she comforted me with some motherly love and wisdom.

My mother was not an educated woman but she was very wise. I came out of my recent hurt-feelings funk by remembering some of the things she told me about dealing with disappointment in others.

One of the things Mama told me was that a lot of the time it's not other people who disappoint us. It's really ourselves we are upset with. We are upset that we care too much about a situation or that we expect so much from others. I was always a very sensitive person. "Feelings like tissue paper" is what my mother would say about me. Mom would remind we all see the world differently. Some of us are tougher than others. Not everyone has your heart, she would remind me. And I know that my mother sometimes wished I could be tougher-shelled, but she was never sorry that I wasn't.

What had me so upset recently was that someone passed away. The other people in his life closed ranks to keep me cut off from even the basic information about the death. These are "Christian" people, some of them daring to stand in pulpits on a regular basis and they behaved like the coldest and hard-hearted people I've ever known. I'm not shocked by their behavior and I guess I kind of expected it. However, it still caused me a great deal of pain.

The only way I was able to pull myself out of my hurt and sorrow was to remember my mother. I could hear a memory of her encouraging me to pray and forgive and move on. When I went through something similar all those years ago - mourning someone I loved while the ugliness of family politics raged around me - my mother told me to stay out of the fray. She reminded me that my only concern should be honoring the dead and dealing with my grief.

I think I have said here before that Mama always said that death and funerals bring out the best and worst in people.

This time around, I got through the initial pain and grief by remembering my mother's advice. It went something like this:

Don't be upset with the way people are behaving. Maybe this is the only way they know how to deal with their pain. All you can do is to behave the way I have taught you. Remember the deceased, honor them, grieve and miss them. All this ugliness going on around the situation doesn't mean anything to the dead. The person you are grieving isn't concerned with the ways and things of this world anymore. All that's left of their mortal being is bone and mud. They no longer care about who is mad at who or who is being petty. Their time for worrying about the living is done with. You just behave in a way that honors their spirit and memory. The Bible tells us that "Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death." (Isaiah 57:2 per NIV)

That's what my mother would say. I know this because, like I said, this is how she comforted me in the past. Just thinking about my mother calms me. I think that I will be able to sleep well tonight and not wake up crying.

I'm calling this a Griot post because my mother would want her grandchildren and their children to know how to deal with this kind of situation. She would want this advice passed down and shared.

Peace
--Free

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

**RECIPE** Beef Jerky (no dehydrator)

First, let me whine just a little. October was a horrible month. My health took a little dip, I had the blues and then things got so much worse. I'm so happy to see November that I could cry. Anyway. Let me hard segue out of that...

I've been tightening up my budget as much as I can. That means cutting out frivolous food buys (aka snacks). I'm not really bad when it comes to snacking but I do love my queso dip, beef jerky, and 'potato chips. Queso dip is priced like it saves lives and beef jerky is even worse. I've found a suitable and (mostly) affordable replacement for the chips. These have replaced the Good Thins I was in love with.




















The other week, I found some recipes for making my own queso dip. I prefer the yellow (salsa con queso) kind while my sister-in-law likes the white (Blanco) dip. The freak. (Okay, let me stop playing and admit that I have never tasted anything but the yellow dip!) This video shows a simple recipe for con queso. That recipe will probably be the only time I use Velveeta and the one reason to keep my old crockpot around.

Anyway.

Last week, I was craving beef jerky. The cheapest prices I could find it for was around ten dollars for a half-pound bag online or twelve dollars for 2 nine-ounce bags (on special sale) at a local store. That's a big ol' nope for me. I can go through a half-pound of jerky in a couple of days. That's a more expensive habit than cigarettes. Also, store-bought jerky tends to be way too sodium-rich for me. I'm not trying to spike my blood pressure or retain gallons of water weight. My only solution was to make my own batch of jerky. One of my nieces in Alaska used to make it for me in her dehydrator and, boy, was it ever yummy. I just had to figure out a way to make some here at home. 

I went to the local butcher and got around 3 pounds of bottom round beef. The butcher is always awesome and he sliced the meat for me into 1/4-inch pieces. Price: just over $15.

Because I don't have a dehydrator, I wanted to find other ways to prep my jerky. So... hello, Google!

I learned that I could use my air fryer or I could use the oven. I opted for the oven because I'm not as comfortable with the air fryer. (Does anyone else have buyer's remorse about their air fryer???)

I have heard that jerky done in the oven or air fryer is not as good as that done with a dehydrator. I disagree. My oven-prepped jerky came out pretty awesome. Here is a recipe from online and the following is how I made my jerky.

Tools you need:
  • A bowl/container large enough to hold your meat with marinade covering it. (This page has great info about marinading in general. Pay close attention to the part about what types of bowls to use.
  • A lid or some plastic wrap to seal the marinading meat in the fridge. The above link suggests using zip bags. I used a food sealer bag.
  • Something to hold the meat aloft for air circulation. I used some teepeed tin foil but you can use an oven-safe cooling rack, wooden or metal skewers. The main thing is that there is air under and above the slices of meat. This is the foil version I used since I didn't have anything else. 
    except mine didn't look this neat!
  • Something to go underneath the meat to catch drippings in the oven. (My foil was on top a baking pan.)
The Meat Prep
  • Marinade your beef for at least 12-14 hours in the refrigerator. Some people do a 24-hour marinade.
  • Drain the meat and pat it dry.
  • Drape the meat over whatever rack/foil you are going to use in the oven. It's important that there is room for air to flow over and under the meat.
  • Set oven temp as low as possible. My electric oven is marked lowest at 200 degrees but actually will turn on just under that - about 180 degrees. I don't like gas ovens but if you have one, you probably know to be very careful...
  • Let the meat "cook" (or, rather, dehydrate), checking it in 1-hour intervals, depending on the oven temp. With the oven at 180, I checked the meat twice in the first 2 hours, then every 30 minutes after that. My jerky was ready to turn over at the 3-hour mark. I made sure it was fully cooked on the one side, flipped it, then continued for another 2.5 hours until it was done - and I like my jerky softer. The longer you "cook" the dryer the meat becomes. 
Keep in mind that for your marinade, you can add whatever flavor you want. I added teriyaki sauce to one batch and some garlic powder to another.

About "curing" jerky: If you decide to marinate your meat in a "cure", it might last longer because curing combats bacteria. I read somewhere that by using certain ingredients in my marinade, I was already sort of curing the meat. ~shrug~.

Listen, I used enough soy and other seasonings that I don't think bacteria would form... But, seriously, there are products sold to cure the meat so I bought some, but I did not like using it. I have read that as long as your work area is clean and the meat is properly handled, you don't have to use a cure. I heat-seal my uneaten jerky in plastic and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. I only make a pound at a time so that I can freeze the unused meat to keep as long as possible. 

Here is a link to info about food safety. Other than handling the meat carefully, it's super important to do a lot of handwashing to cut down on contamination. I hope you do this any time you cook, you freaks. I kid, I kid - not about the handwashing though.

This is some of the jerky that I am actually eating as I type up this post. It's so much better-tasting than store-bought, I think because it's not as salty, dried out, and hardened.





UPDATE:

Now that it's been about a week since I started writing this post, I'm going to add a couple of tips that I've learned after having made 3 batches of jerky:
  • For more flavor, after I marinade the meat, I add a few more dashes of sauce (teriyaki and barbeque is what I'm using recently) before I put the meat on the rack. Yes, the meat will be wetter and take a little longer, but it will retain so much more flavor.
  • Using wooden skewers to lay across a baking pan is easier than using the teepee-ed tin foil method. Just make sure that the skewers are long enough not to fall into the baking pan. For my widest pan, I secured the skewers with some foil wrapped over them and around the lip of the baking pan. You can wash and dry the skewers to reuse at least once again but they are really cheap at the Dollar Store.

Just turned over to brown the other side
after about 2 hours
  • Don't rush the cooking part. My first batch came out well but slightly chewy. I liked that until I accidentally left another batch in for am hour longer and it turned out even better. The meat might look dried and tempt you to take it out of the oven but make sure you taste a piece first. Looking dry and being dehydrated is not the same.
  • Always make small batches. My first purchase of 3 pounds of beef is only half gone after I've made four batches. I wanted to try different flavorings to see what most like. My favorite is a mix of barbeque sauce and a separate teriyaki sauce (the thick kind). My least favorite was the plain batch seasoned with just Worcestershire, soy sauce, and pepper. 
  • If you have a few pieces of meat that cut thicker than you like, beat them flatter with a tenderizer tool (for me that is aka a clean and heavy can of soup!). This is also a nice way to get a more store-bought type of jerky. 
One small batch all
done & ready to store

By the way, not only does making small batches stretch out your supply of meat, but it's probably safer. Even I can only eat so much jerky and I'd rather not store a large amount and risk any going bad. 

One of the things I want to look into is using my cast iron dutch oven to heat the jerky. Cast iron holds heat really well and I think that if I put a small rack into the bottom of the dutch oven where air can still circulate around the meat, I might get a faster and more even result. I will let you know.

Ready to be sealed
to store
I am also looking at some of the cheaper dehydrators on Amazon in case I can afford to give myself a nice Christmas gift this year! Here is a search page that comes up for some in the $25 to $50 range of ratings 4-star and above. For the winter, I don't mind running the oven long enough to make the jerky. It helps heat the house and my winter energy bill is lower than during months I run the A/C but, come summer, I try to use the oven as little as possible.

That's it for the homemade jerky. Next recipe/food post will be about Flaxseed. I'm trying to get as much good and healthy stuff into this body as possible!

Peace
--Free






This song drifts into my mind sometimes.
Rest in peace, Tim


Thursday, October 31, 2019

When You Have to Say Goodbye

Something for when you have to say goodbye. There are people we will always love even when we don't like them.



Peace
--Free

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

**EDUCATION** Life-long Learning

This isn't the first time I have posted links to learning resources, but it's been a while. A long while. The last posting has gotten so old that I've had to do a complete update.





I am always interested in learning new things and I like encouraging my family and friends to do the same. Here is a list of resources for anyone who wants to expand on their knowledge in various areas. I find these links via web searches, reading articles, and watching videos. I try to link to sites with content that is mostly free of charge. I will come back and do updates as I find more resources to link to. Enjoy.

  • The Open Education Database (OEDb) is self-described as " the most comprehensive collection of online college rankings and free courses anywhere online". It can be a bit overwhelming. I suggest starting here at the open courseware collection and scroll down to the list of 'popular online classes' or further down to browse course by subject.
  • DIY Genius is one site I haven't had a lot of time to check out. I do know that not all of the content is free. I am including it on this list just because of the free content.
  • Wikiversity was on one of my original lists and remains a favorite. If you read the Introduction page, you will find that the 'versity is just like the 'pedia and is open to editing. I don't care; it's still a favorite. I must also link to Wikibooks but for all other links, please check the left side panel on any of the Wiki pages for more. It's amazing what we miss by not looking at the side panels of webpages. 
  • Open Culture ("The best free cultural & educational media on the web") is another new one for me. Some of the listings are links to off-site resources. I do like that some of the textbooks are in pdf format to be viewed online. I can't wait to check out some of the links
    for learning languages. The one thing I don't like is that the site shows in Chrome as not being secure.
  • Khan Academy has to be on this list. It's one of the best put-together sites online. I think the video lessons are a great teaching tool for people of all ages. KA is definitely another of my favorites.
  • ** Stanford Online is, in my opinion, better suited for those already attending school or navigating a career. It's worth checking out, no matter who you are.
  • YouTube - okay, this is where you have to kind of work for it. There are a LOT of channels for specific topics of study. I've seen playlists of videos for learning languages, one of the sciences, or for a specific culinary skill. The best way to learn via YouTube is to make up your own playlists ahead of time (for whatever interests you), then search for and add the different videos to your lists. I have playlists for everything from Bible study to Breadmaking to Hokkaido breadmaking. One warning: Make sure you are really focused or get ready to fall down a deep rabbithole...
By the way, I recently picked up a couple of tips from a news article:

1. When searching for any low-cost or free digital content - from games to writing apps - search for "open source" instead of "free".
2. Another way to reference or search for open-source items is to use the search term "FOSS" aka "free and open-source software".

I have to go now because my brain is tired.

Peace
--Free






Saturday, October 26, 2019

**REVIEW** 10-foot USB Phone-Charging Cable

There's nothing special these days about a USB cable for our phones. Between my phone, tablet, and vape devices, I have cables in every room of my apartment.

The reason I have so many cables is that they eventually fray around the ends - from being bent, pulled, twisted, and stretched - and I have to replace them.

What is kind of special about this one is the banded protection on each end.

their photo was better than mine


I am really hoping that this kind of protection extends the life of the cable. I am hopeful...

The 2 cords I am trying are each 10 feet long, but the seller, CyvenSmart, has the same type cords in different lengths. They have a lot of other style cords also, but what I needed was this Type C cable for Samsung's S8 phone.

In addition to the length, I like the tough TPE covering the rest of the cord. It's stronger and feels a lot more durable than the fabric that covered my last cords.



The very best thing about this cable is that it is the first I've had in a while that charges as fast as OEM cables that came with the phone.

Not much else to tell you, but I had not seen this type of cable before so I wanted to share the info. Keep in mind that there were cheaper cables and I even found a set of 4 cables for less than the $11 I paid for these 2, but I am not disappointed.

Peace
--Free


I was in the mood to post some spoken word art and was going to post some Gwendolyn Brooks poetry or something by Tupac but... I remember being obsessed with Def Poetry Jam. A friend I and used to sit around, drinking cheap wine and crying over life while we watched video copies of DPJ. For those who missed out, here's a sample.


Maybe for this holiday season, do something to support a starving and brilliant artist.



Friday, October 25, 2019

**REVIEW** Fresh Nutmeg & Mace

Going way too far...
That time of year is coming when I most enjoy baking. The only thing I hate about this time of year is how pumpkin-spice-crazy people get. I avoid Starbucks and all the other places that push the pumpkin theme. This is silly in a way because I do love pumpkin - to an extent - and pumpkin pie is actually a year-round favorite of mine.







But I love the humor!






I was making a pie a few weeks ago and realized that I never reviewed this fresh nutmeg that I have fallen in love with.


They look a bit
like very pale pecans, huh?


That is some whole India-produced nutmeg I got from the Amazon seller Simply Beautiful (**).

There's a range of sizes in the bag I got
My mother always used fresh spices whenever she could. At the least, she changed out her canned spices and extracts often and she was picky about brands. I have mainly used ground spices in cans that I keep for years and store in the hottest part of my kitchen - in a cabinet right near the stove... My mother would keep her canned spices away from the stove and she kept the fresh items tightly sealed in jars and in a cooler spot. The older I get, the more I want to be like my mom. This is why I am starting to cook with fresher and whole ingredients when possible.

I asked the Amazon seller (Simply Beautiful) about sourcing for more fresh spices and they referred me to the Spicy World of USA website.  (The site comes up in my browser as not being secure, by the way.) I think that a simple web search though would lead anyone to some good sources for spices and extracts. Amazon has quite a selection of reputable sellers I have used in the past for various items. Do your research because finding and using the good stuff is worth it.

For anyone who has not used fresh nutmeg, I can't stress enough what a difference it makes. Making a pumpkin pie always makes a house smell amazing but with fresh nutmeg, the fragrance is next-level lovely. As part of my new calorie-conscious lifestyle, I will sometimes just eat chilled canned pumpkin mixed into some Greek yogurt with a little brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Or I will warm some pumpkin pie mix (that already has spices included) and eat it plain. It's not only low-cal, but it's also a tasty and soothing snack any time of day.


                                                   

Click on the labels to see just how nutritious the pumpkin and pumpkin mix can be. 
















Another way I have used the fresh nutmeg is to grate a little bit into a shallow pan of simmering water with a couple drops of cooking oil. It's a cheap way to make the house smell nice in a hurry.

Long before I got the fresh nutmeg, I had gotten hold of another spice called mace (which you can learn about here). I love using the mace in puddings and cakes and in my coffee. I had first heard of it from a neighbor years ago while living in England. What I did not know until I bought some here is that mace is the outer coating of the shell that houses nutmeg. Talk about learning something new every day.


This is mace in the bag & freshly ground nutmeg on the plate

It's hard for me to detail the difference in the taste of nutmeg and mace except to say that the flavor of the mace is softer and milder. It's more subtle and I find that it has a sort of natural sweetness to it. Nutmeg seems to be a sharper and more pronounced flavor. But then again, I'm no culinary expert.

I can tell you that having fresh nutmeg around makes more sense to me. I don't use a lot of the spice every single day so my canned supply is bound to get a little stale no matter how well I store it. I keep my fresh nutmeg sealed in a mason jar in the door of the fridge. One shell lasts me a really long time - at least as far as I can grind it without hurting my fingers. I keep a few shells in a plastic baggie so I can pull out a little and grate it as needed.

My food sealer comes in handy
all the time.

You don't need anything super fancy to grate fresh nutmeg. I use one of those cheap little fine graters that I got at Dollar General for a buck. When the shell gets too small to safely grate that way, I grind it in a coffee grinder and just toss the residue in with my ground coffee. Someone suggested buying one of those cheap files used in pedicures would also a way to grate the nutmeg. The Dollar General grater works best for me, thanks

Smells SO good when grating it
You can probably tell that this one jar of nutmeg is full enough to last me for the best part of a year - if not longer. I don't even bother using my remaining canned nutmeg anymore. Now that I have gotten used to the fresh stuff, I plan to look around for some affordable fresh mace.


Just for kicks, here is a video talking about nutmeg and the mace. I even added it to my playlist of all things food and cooking:



By the way, I got the mace from Spice Jungle on Amazon (of course). I'm glad to have it and the nutmeg to use in my coffee and pies for the winter. Another seller on Amazon I have gotten spices from is Frontier Co-op. Their Ceylon cinnamon and chocolate are excellent. I will keep my eye open for more sources and update this post.

Peace
--Free


I don't know why, but I like to listen to some Patsy when I am baking. This is a fave.









(** I did not receive a free/discounted product. I mention the seller name for readers who might want to see their details on Amazon.)

Friday, October 18, 2019

UPDATED **REVIEW** Aussie Creme Pudding Miracle Curls

UPDATE will be at bottom of post. A friend told me that the photos I used weren't very useful. That's what good friends are for! So I have added a couple of photos.

This is 1 of 2 Aussie Moist products I will be reviewing. I already love the A.M. brand of conditioners (especially the 3-Minute Miracle one) so I was kind of excited to finally try this from their Curls line.



One reason I am just now trying the Aussie Moist Curls products is that I've been using one of the three thousand other curly hair products in my bathroom pantry... The other "product junkies" out there will know exactly what I mean.

Here is what I heard from other reviews:
  • Made the hair dry - or crunchy
  • Moisture did not last
  • Curl definition was not that great
  • Worked great - but depended on the hair type (4Cs seemed to like it best)
Of course, hair texture and weather conditions have everything to do with how a product works - on the hair and on the skin. I gave the Creme Pudding a try or myself.

Here are the PROS:
  • Did not take a lot for each twist (I applied to my unwashed but very dampened hair)
  • Smoothed out the strands of my hair - sort of like a detangler
  • There was no sticky or tacky feel to my hair
  • There was no flaking when I untwisted my hair
  • A LOT of definition (so much so that I will probably do larger twists next time)
  • My hair was left soft once I loosened the twists with my fingers
  • No smell left in my hair (you will see why this is important)
(I undid one of my twists for the photo just to show you the definition. My hair was not completly dry so it doesn't look wonderful - but you can see the curl definition.)

Here are the CONS:
  • The label really hypes the whole "coconut-jojoba" thing but those are the last ingredients actually listed - along with some castor oil. That was disappointing.
  • The product smells (out of the jar) a little like lightly perfumed Play-Doh. Not awful, but not awesome. This is why I'm glad it dissipated when dry.
  • When applied solo, while this didn't dry out my hair, it didn't add a lot of moisture. The second time I used it, I used it on very wet hair and added a little bit of glycerin - just a tiny amount - and this gave me the moisture I was missing.
As you can see, there aren't a lot of negatives to the product, in my experience. The main thing I could complain about was that the product page noted that this product "Helps lock in moisture for defined curls without the frizzy fuss" and that's only partly true. It locked in the moisture of the glycerin that I added. I don't think that I would have gotten the same softness without having added the glycerin, but that might just be me.
I undid one twist to show you

Anyway, with the seasons in change and the weather here going from super-humid to dang-near-Sahara-dry, I had to find something to keep my nappies happy. (British folk might wince at that, but I am talking nappy hair, not baby bottom covers).

My hair texture has been changing over the past few years - especially after I foolishly did one of those Keratin "temporary" straighteners... Where I could use water and a good moisturizer to activate my curl pattern. I would only have to twist my hair to get more stretch or a specific style. These days, I have to do some kind of twist to get decent curls in my hair. Otherwise, I just have a straight-up 'Fro - a no-curl, no-wave, uneven puff of hair. I think that's an awesome look on some folk (except for the uneven part), but it does nothing for my appearance.

Twisting my hair - either a loose 2-strand or a flat, cornrow style - gives me the stretch I need. Also, a twist-out lasts me for at least 2 weeks, during which I don't have to irritate my fragile hair with a comb or anything. I sleep on a satin pillowcase so I don't even have to wrap my hair at night. It's a beautiful thing. And this is where a good curl cream comes into the picture.

This Aussie Moist Creme Pudding is just about perfect for me - as long as I use it with water or on damp hair. The Amazon price ($8.60 currently) is a little high, in my opinion, but Walmart stores carry it priced at around $5.50. That I can do!

By the way, here are the ingredients:
  • Water
  • Dimethicone
  • Sorbitol
  • Aminomethyl Propanol
  • Carbomer
  • Va/Crotonates Copolymer
  • Benzyl Alcohol
  • Fragrance
  • Dmdm Hydantoin
  • Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil
  • Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil
  • Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil
And, yes, I know that we natural hair folk have a love-hate relationship with 'cones in hair products. I used to avoid them as much as possible but, hey, 'cones give awesome results. What I do know to do. is for every other wash or so, to use a clarifying shampoo to clear the buildup. By all means, though, I think it is wise to do a web search on every single ingredient listed on hair and skin products. So much of what we use can cause allergic reactions or, worse, potentially cause health issues. Do your research.

(I also want to mention that I have seen the product featured in the white jar I show above and in a purple jar. As far as I know, there are no differences. Maybe Aussie M just decided to revamp the look?)

As I said before, I will also be reviewing the Aussie Miracle Curls Defining Oil. There are not a lot of Amazon customer reviews yet but one did catch my eye. A customer mentioned that the oil (in her opinion) is moisturizing but not defining. So I will get to see for myself in the next few days.

Apparently, people with all kinds of textures are using this Aussie Moist Curls line. I have seen reviews from ladies with fine-straight, fine-curly-or-wavy and every kind of naturally-kinky-curly-wavy hair. I love a product that works for so many hair types. I can't wait to review the oil. Until then,

Peace
--Free


Here are the updated photos that I lightened the contrast and brightened to show my dark hair better:

FYI: I also added some of the Aussie Moist curl oil at this point




This is one of my favorite songs from one of the bands of my youth.
I hate the X symbolism but I wanted to find a video that had the lyrics - even those they are badly transcribed in places. Someone commented on the video page that the lyrics he wrote for this song seemed foretelling of the way Hutchence's life ended.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

**BOOKS** "Hidden Treasures: In the Biblical Text"

This is a post that I was originally only going to publish on Free and Faith. I decided that it's one of those books that could be of interest to everyone - whether Christian or not.



By the way, I am always astonished at people who will devote a lot of time studying secular subjects such as philosophy but never think to look seriously at the Bible. It might surprise even Christians to know how much of human history and secular history is corroborative. I have one acquaintance who, like myself, loves the Matrix movies. He can discuss the philosophies and mythologies of that series until the cows come home. When I once mentioned to him how the Bible runs deeper and is more complex than that work of fiction, he basically snorted at me. It was a friendly snort and done with love but, in his view, the Bible is a simple book of fables. If he only spent a little time exploring the book, it's languages, and its complexities, his mind would be truly blown. He's a very intelligent man and so curious about all things - except the Bible. And that is kind of ignorant.

I have been doing a lot of Bible study for the past couple of years. I have read the Bible many times but I have only recently been going deeper into the study of it. I have some trouble sorting and keeping information straight but I don't mind repeating lessons.

The study I started a while back is one by Chuck Missler - Learn the Bible in 24 Hours, which can be found in video format on a YouTube playlist and on Amazon Prime Video. It can also be found in audiobook form through Audible and via local library media streaming services like Overdrive and Hoopla Digital. I think the last time I mentioned it was when I was posting about my news-fatigue. I kept getting as far as Hour 9 and having to go back to the beginning. I have now ordered the book so that I can make notes as I go through the video lessons.




The Chuck Missler book I wanted to mention to everyone today is called Hidden Treasures: In the Biblical Text. And if you wonder why I study so many lessons by the same teacher, that's because I am very careful who I study under. Not every teacher is godly or has good intentions.

Anyway, this current book is one that I want to recommend to my friend the next time I see him. I have listened to his detailed thoughts on various philosophers and teachings so I want to challenge him to think about things from where I sit. Another Missler book on angels would probably be extremely interesting to students of physics. I was no genius in school but Angels Volume 1: Cosmic Warfare introduced me to quantum physics in an exciting way that I could relate to. Trust me when I tell you that while I had heard of Max Planck, I had no clue before why he won a Nobel. I am forever fascinated now! And my friend will be interested in learning that Missler shows why he believes we live in a digital universe. Wha-??? How Matrix-like is that?

I will do a post on the Angels series another time. Back to Hidden Treasures...

One of the most interesting lessons in this little book gives the reader an assignment to design a genealogy with 14 very specific criteria. Once you attempt to do this and realize how difficult (if at all possible), you are presented with how it was completed in the Person of Christ.

The first of 14 criteria

Another thing I am enjoying about this study is that I get to delve more into the Greek and Aramaic languages and history. I  have been able to study some common world history right alongside that shown in the Bible. It's fascinating stuff.

Like I said, I wanted to post this here because I wanted people who may not be Christian to know about the book. I want to challenge some of you to not just sit back and snort at the idea of a belief in Scripture but to at least know what you are scoffing at. Like any serious thing, the Bible is not something to be glossed over. In order for us Christians to confidently believe in the Gospel, we have to know it. The same goes for those people who may want to deny it. How can you deny what you don't know?

Anyway, I hope that this post encourages more people to study the Bible and the history it comes out of. It won't hurt that you will learn something about world history in the process. I was stunned by how much of the history I learned in school has to do with the history of the faith I profess.

By the way, that challenge to design a genealogy? You will get to study for yourself how all the criteria were met in the genealogy of Christ in the first 11 verses of the (Greek language) Gospel of Matthew.

Peace
--Free


And, instead of music today, I thought this was more appropriate


Friday, October 11, 2019

**REVIEW** Voopoo Alpha Zip Pod Kit

Yeah, I know that it's been a hot minute since I've reviewed anything. I have something good today though. This is a sweet little pod kit that I received to try out.



This is Voopoo Alpha Zip Pod device and it really is one of the thinnest, lightest pod devices I've ever seen. It pretty much twins the Juul for weight - which is 14g with the pod installed (thanks, Google). And I do think that Juul might have some real competition in this device. First, it's from Voopoo; second, it's refillable; and third, it uses a standard charging cable.

I hear people talking about various devices as being possible "Juul-killers" but I think this is the Neo device for real.

This is the side view without the pod attached
The Alpha weighs in empty at 14g (0.5oz) and is just 0.7cm thick. When I fill the pod with a mix of 50/50 pg/vg juice and nic salt it weighs out on my food scale at 14.8g/.0.52oz.




If you are like me, eyeballing grams and ounces is one reason I can screw up simple food recipes. To help you better  visualize how lightweight this device is, I weighed my small tube of lip balm:


not a large-sized Carmex

Also, for perspective, know that my pod-filled Uwell Caliburn weighed out at 33 grams or 1.18 ounces. After handling the Zip, my Caliburn felt like a brick.



These are the details on the kit I tried out:

  • The device itself (powered by Voopoo's famous GENE pod chip and with a 250mAh battery)
  • 1  Alpha Zip 1ml-capacity nic salt pod with 1.8ohm coil (compatible with Drag Nano pods)
  • a standard USB cable
  • User manual
  • Warranty card

CON: Notice that this came with only the one pod. When I look at the price of additional pods  Drag Nano pods, they run from $7-$9, depending on the source. This is one of those cases of the pods costing almost as much as the actual device...

PRO: The pods are refillable and are supposed to be good for at least 3 refills before needing to be replaced. I always push that limit though so we will see what we will see... Also, there are 5 built-in safety protections:

  1. 10-second vaping overtime
  2. Short-circuit
  3. Overcharge
  4. Over-discharge
  5. Overcurrent output

PRO: As far as performance, this device vapes nicely though it's a little airy. I can block the charging hole halfway to get a tighter vape and I get quite a bit more flavor from this than I do the Caliburn - which surprised me. As I said, I did dilute my nic salt with some regular juice. I think that for a stronger and more ciga-like throat hit, I would need to use nic salt only.

PRO: the pod is simple to fill. The hole is small but I was able to get even my largest drip into it. I do like that juice doesn't leak out. Sometimes, I have wanted to drain a pod to change juice and it's been easy in most devices. This one is almost impossible to drain - which is bad if you want to swap but great for non-leakage. Also, the lid has to be positioned to the correct side in order to cap the pod. That's a minor point but I do have to fiddle a bit to replace the cap after refilling. #firstworldcrybaby

PRO: Because this device is shaped almost exactly like the Juul but is longer, I can sort of hold it in cigarette fashion. Notice that, except for the slightly beveled design, the Zip is just as thin as the Juul. On the other hand, the Zip charges with any USB cord unlike Juul with the proprietary charger that I am always worried about losing when I travel.

















CON: One thing I really don't like is that on this silver-colored device, there's an annoying imprint right across the top spelling out ZIP. It's kind of tacky-looking, in my opinion. As you can see, the green shade also has some kind of imprint. Ugh. I wish I had gotten the Red or Peach color... The Grey looks too much like the Juul I have.

Looks like the Green and Silver at the only ones jacked up with an imprint

Like I said, the kit was a try-me so I'm out zero dollars and should quit nitpicking. Looking around online, I see that the price ranges from $13 all the way up to $25. That's not expensive for most folk but I will just keep this ugly Silver one, thank you very much! I am still paying off credit card debt.

PRO & CON: To be honest, as someone who prefers sub-ohm vaping I don't know that I would pay more than $15 for this. However, I do like using pod devices for discretion when I am out and don't want to be seen huffing on a giant mod. I love my Smok Veneno and my fat Voopoo Caliber but they aren't the most delicate devices around.

PRO: This Zip kit felt almost as good as the Juul and we all know that the Juul is pricey and non-refillable. If I used pods exclusively, this Alpha Zip would be my jam.

Peace
--Free


Wednesday, October 02, 2019

**UPDATE** Alternatives to Windows OS (for dummies)

Important: Please notice that since I am a novice, I'm not giving you my take on anything so much as I am providing links to information in this post. I guess I'm mostly saving you some of the trouble of hunting around for the information and, trust me, it took me a few days myself.

*****

UPDATE:
I was interested in trying out Zorin OS and ran into a couple of hesitations. 1: There is a $39 charge for the fully-loaded version (Ultimate). 2: While wondering about the safety of installing an additional OS, I did some Googling and ran across this:
Uh... WHAT??? 
Yeah, so... I think I will wait until I can get my brother or someone more experience to install any other OS on my PC. I did want to update and point out this possibility because I know that a lot of people jump in and do things without doing their own research. 
You have been warned...

In my last post, I talked about looking for alternatives to Microsoft's Office. I've been checking out a couple and will update that post when I've had time to evaluate the various software. For this post, I wanted to talk about alternative operating systems.

For some reason, I've never thought much about having many choices when it comes to operating systems. I barely think about any operating systems at all. I usually only think of Windows or Apple as competing brands, not operating systems. (I will focus more on those 2 brands in a later post.)

Let me first stop tiptoeing around and just admit that, I never even thought much about what an operating system actually is. And, since this is a For Dummies-type post, let's start with a definition:
An operating system is software that manages all of the hardware resources associated with your desktop or laptop. To put it simply, the operating system manages the communication between your software and your hardware. Without the operating system (OS), the software wouldn?t function. (source)
When I started looking around, I was surprised by the variety of choices.  First up was Linux - which has several types of versions (or types) of systems under it.

Source


This is probably the only alternative OS (outside Windows and Apple) that I heard of some years back. This article explains Linux (and more) and I highly suggest reading it if you are thinking of trying an alternate OS.  What I just learned is that there are several "versions" or distributions of Linux used - some of which I have on this list. I will get back to this point in a moment but, for now, here is the Linux site.

What I would want more than anything in an alternative OS is ease of use. Naturally, I can appreciate this article about the best Linux versions for beginners (updated July 2019). Hallelujah joy, right? Now, if you are someone who feels more experienced, that previous article on Linux will detail some versions you might like. For the rest of us dummies though (okay, I'm talking about myself here), these look great:

Zorin OS seems to be the one I hear about being so tailormade for Windows users. Apparently, it's got more of the look and feel that we are already comfortable with and has a lot of pre-installed stuff. And, oh yeah, I'm figuring out that dealing with some alternative operating systems means potentially having to "install packages of software". Say WHAT? I once backed out of using free software for a writing program because I couldn't figure out the installation process. Oh, crap.

I took Deepin off the above list just because there were whiffs of rumors about its stability and some people asking if it contained spyware. I don't know enough about any OS to mention one with alleged problems. 

I got a little tangled up when looking up info on Linux Mint because I ran into Linux Mint Mate and Linux Cinnamon before I stopped. I was scared it was going to turn into a full spice shelf full of various versions. It all gave me a headache so you're on your own for real with this one.

The next thing I did was check out some comparisons of the different versions. Again, there are so many of these that I can only suggest you do a search on them. For example, the first one I ran across was a Mint vs Ubuntu. I'm scared to tell you about something called Kubuntu.

To be honest, I think that I will most likely try Zorin first. Of course, I will either end up letting you know how that went or calling my doctor to up my anxiety meds.

As far as possibly switching to a Mac at some point in the near future, I have my worries about that. It's going to be tough for an old chick like me to learn something new. I have found some resources that I need to peruse though. These might be helpful to any of you should you make the big switchover:
Okay then. There is a bit of info yo get you started. I stopped looking around when I realized how many versions of versions of versions of operating systems there are. I was looking at one called Haiku and decided that I was getting in too deep for my brainpower. And, just so you know, I don't think Haiku is for the newbie.

I will, of course, come back and update or do a new post if and when I test one of these operating systems. Right now, I plan to go and look at some more about this phobia I didn't know had a name.

Peace
--Free



For today's music, here is something from the angelic voice of Jessye Norman who passed away on September 30th. This is her singing "When I Am Laid In Earth".  May she rest in peace.



 And because some people think opera is not for them, here is the Jeff Buckley version. May he rest in peace.



And for all of us, here are the lyrics as best I could find and the words should give us all something to think about.
Thy hand, Belinda, darkness shades me,
On thy bosom let me rest,
More I would, but Death invades me;
Death is now a welcome guest.
When I am laid, am laid in earth, May my wrongs create
No trouble, no trouble in thy breast;
Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate.
Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.